If you are the soul of your music, then your audience is the heart. Their support is the life force that sustains your body of work. Unfortunately, music fans are not all congregating in the same place. Not only that, but many of them are attracted to different types of content. There will, of course, be overlap with these variables, but there’s something to be said about targeting specific kinds of people. Back in Episode IV, you spent some time figuring out who those people are. In this installment, we’re going to look at where those folks are and how you can connect with them.
Just as your fan’s bandwidth is limited, your time is valuable too. In other words, you don’t want to create anything in vain. Without trying to imbue your actions with existential gravity, every action comes at the cost of rejecting other options. Choosing to spend your time on one thing means you are forfeiting your time to work on other things. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this inherently (in fact it can be liberating depending on how you look at it). All this means is that you should be as deliberate with your time as humanly possible†. Let’s crack open an example so we can apply it to today’s topic.
† Don’t forget to set aside time to enjoy life.
You have written a record. It’s ready for distribution. You have all your social media handles secured and you’ve been posting on them periodically, racking up a handful of followers along the way. You’re ready to start putting together promotional material, so you contact a graphic designer and commission a few promo graphics. Now your financial budget is all but tapped out, but you want to make sure your new release gets heard and those shiny promo graphics go to good use. With the last scrap of your budget, you decide to pour your money into a Facebook advertising campaign since you have been trying to increase your visibility on that platform.
Now fast forward to release day. A few likes trickle in, maybe a follow or two. Hours pass, then days. There has hardly been any activity on your promo posts—even though you set up a clever series of announcements that all tie into one another, each of them well-made and informative. You served up the campaign to people all over the world from all walks of life. Statistically, someone should be biting, right?
In this situation, there could be a number of reasons why this flurry of content didn’t produce the desired result. In all likelihood, the reason is that the bulk of your fans are active on another platform. Furthermore, even if potential fans do exist on that platform, you likely killed your reach by targeting too broad of a demographic. The point here, though, is that you need to go where your fans are. If you make synthwave and the entire synth community lives on Twitter, go to Twitter. While maintaining a presence on various platforms isn’t a bad idea, you run the risk of diluting your message by spreading yourself too thin. Put simply, be mindful of your time and spend it wisely!
Whether they are aware of it or not, your fans know what they want. Their platform of choice likely plays directly into those preferences, too. On any platform, your goal as the artist should be to provide content that gives your fans something to connect with and—in many cases—direct them to take specific actions. If you try out a few types of content and start recognizing some positive trends, keep doing that! Give your audience what they want! Are they looking for intimate stories about your writing process? Do they want to see your workspace? Do they react positively to professionally-photographed images? Do they respond better to candid shots of everyday life? What about footage from your latest gig? Chances are, something will stick. Just be sure to watch for those patterns and remember that people’s preferences can fluctuate from platform to platform and month to month. Do your best to maintain an awareness of those shifting tendencies.
As far as how to use your content to elicit fan interaction, the focal point should always be on the value you’re offering. While the point of sending out newsletters and promo material is often to drive streams and purchases, if your posts only ever say: ‘My album is out. Buy it on Bandcamp,’ most people will ask ‘why?’ The truth of the matter is that every other artist, company, and organization are in the same boat. They are all asking for the same thing: interaction. We, as creators, are understandably selfish and (shockingly) so are listeners. If you can find a way to offer them something in return (beyond your awesome music), the likelihood of them following your call-to-action increases significantly. Here’s a few examples of some basic incentives you can offer:
|Subscribe on YouTube||Get notified whenever new music videos are posted|
|Pre-save the upcoming album on Spotify||Get the album in your Release Radar playlist on the same day so you don’t even have to think about adding it later|
|Pre-order the EP on Bandcamp||Get a bonus track as a special thank you|
By no means is the above list comprehensive, but you get the idea. Even if the reward seems relatively insignificant, your fans will be more likely to support you if you offer them something for their support.
Try not to be too random with the actions and incentives you propose either. Think about some of your short-term goals and consider how your fans can help get you there. For example, your priority might be to increase your average monthly listeners on Spotify. Maybe you want to bump up the number of merch sales on your website. Whatever the case, be deliberate with where you send your fans and which actions you ask them to take. The more focused your efforts, the better your results will be.
That’s all for this episode of Leveling Up Your Artistic Identity. Next month will be a spiritual successor to this article that is focused on networking with fans and fellow artists. As always, if you have any questions about this article and want to discuss things in greater detail, leave a comment below or join the conversation on Discord!